Complaint Against Mann Alleges Campaign Violations
A Menifee resident has filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission all...
The FPCC confirmed that a complaint was filed Sept. 5 by Darci Castillejos, accusing Mann of using a candidate-controlled committee for independent expenditures in support of his own campaign. The complaint also alleges that Mann improperly used surplus funds from a previous failed city council campaign in running for his current seat on the Menifee Union School District governing board.
Tara Stock, a spokesperson for the FPPC, said Tuesday that a decision whether to investigate the charges has not been made. She said that determination usually is made within 14 days of receipt of the complaint.
Contacted by phone Tuesday, Mann said he was unaware of the complaint filed against him. After obtaining a copy of the complaint from the FPPC, he returned a reporter's call and denied any wrongdoing.
"I've made every attempt to comply with the rules because I believe deeply in the Political Reform Act," Mann said. "The FPPC told me I will have the opportunity to address the allegations, and I will do so. To my knowledge, I have complied with every rule."
Castillejos said she became suspicious when she saw Mann's promotional cards stating he was supported by the Menifee Taxpayer's Association. She says in researching that group, she learned that Mann formed it himself and was its president.
That could be considered a violation of section 85501 of the Political Reform Act, which states that "a controlled committee of a candidate may not make independent expenditures and may not contribute funds to another committee for the purpose of making independent expenditures to support or oppose other candidates."
Mann said that although he is the founder of the Menifee Taxpayers' Association and previously served as its president, he withdrew from a leadership role in the group on June 13 to avoid any possible violations. He said Sun City resident Jerry Granich is the group's current president.
"I knew I couldn't be in charge of the group and be a candidate at the same time," said Mann. "I started the group back in the summer of 2010 with the intention of it being an advocacy group. I am no longer involved to the degree I was."
A 410 form (Statement of Organization Recipient Committee) filed at Menifee City Hall shows Granich as the treasurer and principal officer of the Menifee Taxpayers' Association. The document includes a letter from Granich documenting a change in those roles on June 13. That document was just filed on Monday, however.
Mann also denied any wrongdoing in the use of campaign funds, either in this election or previous elections.
"Until I read the whole letter from the FPCC, I don't know what they're talking about with that one," he said. "I do know you can transfer funds from one account to another. I was advised that was allowed, and I know others have done it.
"I have attempted to comply with every regulation and I believe in full disclosure. I planned to release my 460 (campaign contributions) form to the press even before I was required to."
Castillejos said she filed the complaint because "I feel it's important for the voters of Menifee to know if there's a pattern of misconduct."